The Need for 24/7 Youth Crisis Intervention is Clear

Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) has seen a steady increase in suicide, overdose, psychosis, and complex mental health crisis since 2019.

The number of young people in mental health crisis showing up at the YESS 24/7 shelter has increased by 30%.


“…the highest number of social disorder calls occurred between 3:00PM and midnight, with mental health calls for service peaking between 2:00PM and 10:00PM. Social disorder calls peaked from Friday–Sundays.”

“Based on an analysis of dispatched calls to the front line, trends with social disorder and mental health calls for service were identified. A significant gap has been identified regarding the availability, based on timing, of most social agencies compared to when social disorder calls or mental health calls are received.”

Edmonton City Council. Analysis of the Delivery of Social Services Type by Edmonton Police Service: Responding to Social Disorder & Mental Health Calls for Service. November 16, 2020.


“Wait times for care in the ER, both from ER team members and mental health professionals, were seen as unacceptable to respondents. Caregivers were concerned about wait times when worried for their child’s safety, especially when their child had attempted suicide or was experiencing suicidal ideation. Participants noted a lack of mental health services offered during the evenings and weekends, and expressed frustration that an appropriate mental health provider was not always available for youth. Parents also stated that the long wait for getting support in the community is very frustrating and inhibits recovery.”

Suen, Victoria Ph.D. Helping Kids & Youth in Times of Emotional Crisis: Phase 1 Final Report. Addiction & Mental Health and Emergency Strategic Clinical Networks, 2018. p. 19.


Currently, in Edmonton, youth have very little access to 24/7 crisis intervention other than emergency departments and police services, neither which are equipped or intended to support youth in crisis. More and more young people are needing:

  • 24/7 crisis intervention, stabilization, and personal, individual support
  • safe places to sleep during the day or night
  • specialized and trauma-informed mental health and medical treatment services
  • an intentional continuum of aftercare to ensure their wellbeing

Almost all mental health supports and services for youth are available only during daytime hours and many are only available Monday to Friday. Currently, YESS is the only place in Edmonton that will intake youth in crisis 24/7 and provide a place to sleep during the day or night, and we can typically only support 16 youth at a time. Furthermore, while youth agencies work hard to support young people, youth often slip through the many jurisdictional gaps in the current system of care that divides services and funds based on a youth’s symptoms such as addiction, mental health, homelessness, criminal involvement, and disabilities, which only creates more barriers for youth and decreases the likelihood that they can or will seek help.

We have seen a significant increase in youth in crisis over the last two years and a decrease in the funding and support for the agencies who support these youth.


Read the full Case for Support here